“Hey, twins,” I said, getting their attention. I was serious once more, as they now were.
“Yes, what is it?” Kai announced seriously. He sat down on one of the brown leather couches spread out throughout the room.
Besides the couches, there was a clean black coffee table in the center of the room, with the couches surrounding it. There were old brown bookshelves all around the room with books, but it looked as if this place hadn’t been touched for ages. There was dust coating the shelves and the books. The coffee table top was covered in so much dust, it looked gray. The ceiling was covered in plain old white tiles with an overhanging light. The carpet on the floor was royal blue.
“Explain the situation to Vanni as I’m going to switch. You guys have more patience than I do with this pathetic vampire,” I said in a snappy tone.
Keoni just rolled his eyes as Kai nodded, crossing his arms.
“So you g-guys are going to e-explain something to me about Veronique? Why did she wait so long? If she cared like she said she did, then why did she wait? Why put me through pain?” I asked as tears brimmed my eyes. I immediately blinked them away, shaking away the feeling of pain from earlier.
“It’s because she’s a shapeshifter,” Keoni said in a bored tone, sprawling himself out on a separate couch.
I gave him a confused look as I didn’t understand what that would have to do with her actions.
“Do you even know what a shapeshifter is?” I heard Kai ask.
I looked at him and then looked down in embarrassment.
“Yup. There’s your answer,” Keoni responded to his brother in a mocking tone, making my already red cheeks flush brighter.
“This is going to take forever,” Kai said as he sighed heavily.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think these twin demons were trying to shame me, and it was working because I felt stupid for not knowing. If demons were afraid of them, then they should be popular in the supernatural world and the most feared.
I’d been a vampire for a couple of centuries, and these twin demons knew it. Therefore, I should’ve known about these fearful creatures, but I didn’t.
“Okay, pay attention, peasant. My brother will explain these things to you.”
Keoni snapped me out of my depressing thoughts. I nodded and looked over to where Keoni was lying, surprised to see him sitting up, leaning back against the couch, watching me. He was staring at me as he had on a very sinister smile.
All I could think of was Oh shit.
“Okay, now listen up. Shapeshifters can shift their bodies by transforming and reshaping themselves down to their genetic cellular structure. Now their most dangerous power is when they impersonate another person. They can also enhance their own bodies for combat by making their bodies stronger.”
Kai started to explain.
“Wait, they can impersonate people? How? And how can they make their bodies stronger?” I was curious yet scared.
Knowing Veronique was one of these dangerous creatures and finding out that they could impersonate others made me wonder if that was her true form.
“Yes, they can, and it’s part of their powers,” he answered simply, resting his hands behind his head.
“Powers? Does that mean that wasn’t Veronique’s true form?” I had to know. I had to because I had kissed her.
He snickered at me as he must’ve read my thoughts and seen my worried expression.
“No, that wasn’t her true form, but you’re in luck because the voice of a shapeshifter never changes. That’s the only way to tell if it’s female or male. I wouldn’t trust anything they say or what they look like as no one has ever seen a shapeshifter’s true form,” he said, all the while snickering at me.
I frowned as I learned this.
There was a possibility that she had lied to me about everything. I shook my head, trying to clear the doubt, but there wasn’t anything I could do but straight out ask her. I knew he had said not to trust anything they said, but I would never know if I could really trust her if I didn’t ask.
“You shouldn’t even be thinking of asking that despicable creature anything. She’ll lie to you. Don’t forget how long she put you through pain before she gave way.”
“How would you know? You don’t know her like I do. How would you know if she will lie to me or not?” I said with a little bit of courage.
I immediately regretted my actions as I saw Kai’s eyes flicker black. I was scared out of my wits. I glanced over to Keoni to see if he could help me calm down his brother, but he smiled wickedly at me and shook his head.
“K-Kai, I-I’m s-sorry. I-I-I d-didn’t m-mean it.” I tried apologizing, but it didn’t work because he shook his head and started growling.
At this point, I was frozen with fear. I couldn’t move right now. All I could do was pray to any higher being there was that they would send someone to help stop him from attacking me.
I had my eyes closed because I thought that if I couldn’t see him, the pain would lessen. My fear was growing by the second as I heard him shuffling around. I could only picture him walking from the couch he was on agonizingly slow toward me.
After all, that was how a predator stalked his prey, right?
Giving them enough time to run because predators loved the thrill of the chase? Well, I wasn’t going to give him that thrill because for one, I couldn’t move, and two, if I did, he would immediately catch me, and then he would make me suffer even more than if I had just stayed put.
“What’s wrong? Your sudden burst of courage gone?” he asked in a dangerously low tone.
I opened my eyes to see him inches away from my face. I caught my breath in that moment, which only resulted in him smirking, showing his fangs. I watched them lengthen, making me unable to breathe.
Hello! Help me!
No. You’re the stupid one who got yourself into this mess. You can get yourself out of it.
What? If I get hurt, you will too!
You think I forgot about that? Besides, if I interfere, he will definitely get pissed. Right now, he just wants to scare you.
How do you know that?
I know because I’m a demon, idiot. Same as him. I know what face he’ll make when he wants to inflict pain.
Oh, okay. So we are in the clear?
Yeah. Wait, scratch that. We aren’t in the clear.
W-what do you m-mean?
I mean that sinister smile he and his brother made just now means he is going to torture the hell out of you.
What? Can’t you do anything to help me?
No! It’ll only make it worse. You’re only option is to take it like a man or pray someone comes to your safety.
Oh, how I wish for Veronique to be here.
That stupid wench can’t save you now. She’s long gone, buddy.
It was in that very moment that my wish was granted.
Veronique came to my rescue. How she knew I needed help or why she came was beyond me, but in that moment, I didn’t care why she had come or who she was. The thing was she was here, and from the look on her face, she wasn’t too happy with Kai being this close to me, half-shifted.
If looks could kill, he would’ve been in a million pieces from her piercing glare.
“Get. Away. From. Him.”
Her tone was threatening, but it didn’t seem to faze him one bit. However, it did faze his brother as Keoni’s sinister smile turned into a fearful one.
“I will give you three seconds. If you don’t listen to my commands, you will wish you have never been born.” Veronique was very angry. This was the first time I had seen her angry, and to be honest, it didn’t scare me. Yes, I knew she was a shapeshifter, which was one of the most feared supernatural creatures there was, but for some reason, I wasn’t afraid.
“One . . . two . . . three. You asked for it,” she said before she disappeared.
It was like she had vanished. She must’ve turned herself invisible because all three of us searched the room for her but couldn’t find a trace.
In that moment, Kai was immediately flung across the room with such force, his body went through one of the bookshelves, making it so that the books and the top of the bookshelf buried him.
“Don’t you ever threaten him like that again.” She appeared in front of me. She was in a protective stance, shielding me with herself.
“You think you can do that to me and get away with it, bitch?” Kai growled out angrily as he started throwing books off him, picking himself up.
“Sweetheart, I know I can. You thought correctly. I am a shapeshifter, and if I were you, I’d pipe down as I’m allowing you this one chance to stay away from Vanni. Most other shapeshifters would kill the minute someone found out they were a shapeshifter. That’s how one knows our true form,” she spat out.
She turned around and stuck her hand out to help me up. I took her hand and stood up next to her, never letting go of her hand.
“So you didn’t leave, wench. I knew we couldn’t trust you,” Keoni spat out angrily. He was beyond furious. I guess it would piss one off if they knew someone had eavesdropped on your conversation, especially if they knew it was about that person.
“You really thought I was going to leave Vanni alone with you two? You’re demons. I’m not stupid. Trust goes both ways here,” she taunted. She gently tugged my hand behind her.
I didn’t know what she had sensed, but she was protecting me from something. I was kind of afraid at that point. Things were getting out of hand with the twins, and Veronique was only riling them up more,
which I didn’t need. They were going to get really ugly if I didn’t do something about her.
So I did the only thing that I knew would work and calm her down—kiss her.
I spun her around with the hand that held hers and pulled her into my arms. She was about to question my antics, so I took the opportunity and connected my lips with her soft ones.
She immediately melted into the kiss. It shocked me that Xander was letting me be with her this long.
Only because she’s our ticket to calming the guys down and off our back because of your idiotic comments. Next time, keep your mouth shut.
Okay, I’m sorry.
I placed my hands on the small of her back and pulled her closer to me. I felt her wrap her arms around my neck, which gave away that she was completely calm and relaxed once again and not ready to kill.
So after a few more seconds of kissing the one I’d grown attached to, I finally released her lips and rested my forehead against hers.
She gazed up into my eyes lovingly, making my heart skip multiple beats. I could hear the voices of the twins in my head.
Not wanting Veronique to read my mind again and hear our conversation, I kissed her once more to distract her. I heard her let out a few giggles in between kisses.
What the hell are you doing? I was going to kill her.
Please listen, Kai. I didn’t want her to hurt you. If she is as strong as you say she is, then please don’t aggravate her. She could end up killing you.
Seems like the peasant here has a point, Kai. You shouldn’t go at a shapeshifter like that. You are really lucky Vanni is here and can calm her down. That was very reckless of you.
Oh, shut up, Keoni. No one asked for your input.
Yeah, but you almost asked for a death wish, brother. Don’t do that again. You might not get another warning. We must be careful.
Yes, I know, but she can’t just do that to me and get away with it.
Yes, Kai, I believe she can. She is a shapeshifter—and a very smart one at that.
Yeah, I know. She was just waiting for her chance to be near Vanni so we can’t manipulate her.
Yeah, I kinda figured that out the minute she threw you across the room.
Yeah, let’s not mention that to anyone. Got that, peasant?
Yes, Kai. I got it.
Good. Now let Xander out.
“Hey, Vanni, what was that about?” I heard this disgusting creature ask me.
I answered her by throwing her off me and to the floor a few feet away.
“Understand now, creature?” I spat out with much disgust.
“Oh. It’s you, Xander. What happened to Vanni? Was it you who was kissing me?” she asked, a bit irritated as she stood up and crossed her arms over her chest.
“No, it was that pathetic vampire who kissed you. I wouldn’t even dream of touching your ass. You reek,” I said, trying to aggravate her even more. I knew she wouldn’t dare touch me as all I had to do was switch places with Vanni the minute she started to put me through pain.
“I’ll just have you know Vanni likes me,” she bragged, but I wasn’t about to let her keep her hopes up. I just smiled wickedly. She looked at me with a confused look, but I knew well that she had her guard up.
“How do you know that? How do you know he wasn’t trying to distract you or that he was just trying to diffuse the situation?” I taunted. I glanced over to the twins, and they immediately caught onto my plan.
“Yeah, wench. How do you know this all wasn’t just a setup to lure you out?” Kai teased, and his eyes flickered black and fangs lengthened.
I knew we were playing a dangerous game, but I couldn’t help it. She thought she had control over us, but I knew exactly how to manipulate her because I was the one who shared a body with the one she loved.
“No. H-h-he w-wouldn’t do that. No, I know Vanni wouldn’t do that to me. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Not the way he kissed me. That kiss was real. It had to be.” She was getting scared now.
Perfect. She’s right where we want her.
No, Xander. Don’t do this to her.
I have to. You really think I am going to let her get away with what she did to Kai just now? I am not letting her get in control. We are demons. We are always in control.
Not against a shapeshifter.
Maybe not, but this shapeshifter, we can be.
“That’s right. This was all a setup. You think we are dumb enough to let a shapeshifter get away from our line of sight? You underestimated us, creature,” Keoni said as his eyes flickered black as well.
“No. No. No. That can’t be true. I don’t believe you.” She was starting to crack. It was obvious because we could hear it in her voice.
I just snickered at her pathetic attempts to console herself.
“Now if you don’t want to be used by your lover again, it will do you good to remember who’s in charge,” I said, threatening her once more. Threatening her was the only way to keep this shapeshifter on our side.
“Bear this in mind, wench. Do not ever touch me like that again. You’re lucky this time was a hoax. Next time, you and your precious lover will be no more,” Kai threatened as his claws and fangs started to retract.
I had no idea what he had meant or had in mind for that, but I knew not only she but also I had to be on my guard. Right now, I thought it was only an empty threat since I didn’t know if even he knew how to follow through with that.
“Y-y-y-y-yes, s-s-s-sir,” she stuttered once again and went to sit down on the couch. She kept her head low, and her shoulders sagged.
Good work. We finally got her.
I knew we would. How could we not get her to fall into our traps, Kai?
Shut it, Keoni.
Would you two can it? We need to focus on what we’re going to do with her.
Why don’t we bring her with us?
To where, Kai? Huh?
To Dominique, stupid. That was our goal this whole time, Xander.
Yeah, we were going to fix that pathetic form of yours.
Keoni, I don’t need any remarks. Besides, she could be reading our minds.
Xander, keep Vanni in check. We can’t let him get out. He could blow our cover.
You got it, Keoni.
“Hey, wench,” I demanded, getting her attention.
“Yes? What is it?” she asked fearfully as she stared back at me.
“Tell us what you brought us here for. Don’t forget about that dullahan from earlier,” I said, bringing back her memories of why she had led us down here. A light bulb seemed to have gone off as I said that.
“I brought you guys down here to show you this,” she said as she got up.
I was curious because she was just shuffling through the dusty books on the shelves until she hit a certain one that triggered the moving of a bookshelf. It slid to the side, revealing a secret passageway.
It was very dark, even for my enhanced vision. It still couldn’t pierce through the darkness.
The air that blew through the opening was cold, like bone-chilling cold.
There was something in there that even I didn’t want to see.
My worst fears were realized the second she spoke.
“What I have for you is just through here,” she said in a dull tone.
It was like she didn’t care what was through there. Well, of course, she wouldn’t. She was a shapeshifter. She could be anything. She could even enhance her own body strength. Unlike her, we couldn’t.
If we got hurt by whatever was in there, we were done for,
not because we were scared—because we all definitely were—but because we couldn’t see what would be hurting us.
The most dangerous fear was fear of the unknown, and right now, whatever was in there was unknown to us, all of us,
except for her because she’d obviously been here, but we were a different matter.
“Hang on a minute,” I said, quickly stopping her in her tracks.
She turned around and looked at me plainly.
Yup, it’s just as I thought. She quickly transfers her emotions. Just a minute ago, she was grieving over being used by Vanni. Now she was as dull as a robot. She didn’t leak out any emotion, not even fear.
“What’s in there? Why’s it so damn cold all of a sudden?” I asked, making sure to hide the fear that was beginning to rise within me. I cursed that peasant because these were his emotions leaking out—or that was what I kept telling myself.
“It’s cold because the tunnel is made of stone and we are underground. Anything else?” she asked with no emotion.
She looked at all three of us, making sure we all had our questions answered.
The way she had made sure we were okay with this made me feel very uneasy. Why would she need our consent for anything? Especially if we were just walking?
“Yes, I have one,” Keoni spoke just as she started to turn around.
She looked at him, waiting for him to continue.
“Why can’t we see in there?” Keoni asked, looking back at the opening behind her.
“I don’t know,” she answered in a bored yet polite tone.
She hadn’t moved her eyes off him. She was waiting for him to be okay. Not only that, but also, it looked like she was waiting for something. Maybe a certain question?
It also looked like she wasn’t going to tell us if we didn’t ask. So I decided to bring it up.
“Hey, stupid. Why are you just standing there? What the hell are you waiting for?” I asked, stepping closer to her so that I towered over her small frame.
I was trying to intimidate her, but it didn’t seem to be working. However, I wasn’t going to back down. Never would
I back down from a shapeshifter, not if they weren’t a threat to me.
“Uhm . . . because . . .” she started but looked down for some reason, and I knew it wasn’t because of me.
“Well, spit it out, creature,” Keoni snapped. I knew Keoni was the impatient one, especially when scared.
“Uhm . . . Have you heard of the story of the First Ones?” she asked in a soft voice. It was so soft that if I wasn’t a demon, I wouldn’t have picked it up.
I glanced at the twins. Seeing their uneasy expressions that matched my own made me feel even more uneasy.
“You mean the legend of the supernaturals?” Kai asked seriously.
He was always the calm one, but every now and then, he did have his outbursts of anger. I mean, he was a demon. He would always have that slipup, as we all did, just that some had bigger anger slips than others—like Keoni and me, for example.
“Yes, that one. Have you heard of it?” she repeated, still keeping her eyes to the floor. I didn’t know why she wasn’t looking at us, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it.
“That’s just a legend. Why would that be relevant now?” Keoni asked curiously. He wasn’t taking this seriously.
There was a reason why she had brought it up and also why she wouldn’t meet our eyes.
“There’s a reason she brought it up, idiot. Now shut up and pay attention,” Kai snapped at his brother, earning himself a demon glare and a growl to go along with that. Kai just let out an inhumane growl of his own, rivaling his brother’s.
Keoni backed off and looked back at the shapeshifter in front of us.
“Now continue, wench,” Kai demanded.
She nodded and asked us once again if we knew the legend.
“The legend says that the First Ones were the first supernaturals ever to walk this planet, but why would we need to know about that now?” Kai asked calmly, hiding his fear.
“Well, the legend also says that this tunnel behind me was one that they used when they roamed this earth.”
Now that threw me off guard, and from the expressions of the twins, I could tell it had also caught them by surprise.
“And you want us to walk through there? Are you out of your mind? There’s no way in hell I would follow you through that tunnel,” Keoni snapped once again, showing us that he was afraid.
I knew that this woman here sensed his fear and perhaps ours too, but she was being smart by not acting upon it. She knew we had what she wanted—Vanni.
“Yes. I’m sorry, but this is the only way,” she said solemnly. She grasped her hands together in front of her and kept her head down. She was submitting to us, showing us that she truly didn’t mean any harm or to frighten us.
“The only way to where?” Kai asked skeptically. He kept his eyes fixed on her. That way, if she made one little mistake, he would be able to tell, to know if she was lying or not.
“To the other side of the forest. The other side of Les Maudits Forest. Isn’t that where you were headed?” she asked curiously. This time, she met our eyes, although hers stayed fixed on Kai’s.
“Yes, that would be correct,” Kai responded.
I didn’t know how she knew where we were going, but the fact that she was taking us safely was enough for me not to question her.
Keoni, however, questioned every little thing she did.
“How did you know where we were headed? You didn’t seem to know when we confronted that dullahan.” It was just as I had suspected. He was going to question it.
“Uhm . . . I read your mind . . .” she said quietly, looking down at the floor again. She started to play with her hair in a nervous gesture, and she had good reason too.
“Why?” Kai asked seriously. He had no hate in his voice, just seriousness.
She looked up shyly, glancing into his eyes before looking down again. “I wanted to . . . to make sure that Vanni was safe.”
For some unknown reason, I sensed anger rolling off Kai in waves when she mentioned his name. I glanced toward Keoni to see him just as shocked.
I looked back toward him skeptically as Keoni did the same.
Let’s see how this plays out.
Keoni, do you have any idea what’s going here?
Wait, can he read our minds?
No, I blocked him out. The creature might, but he can’t.
So why the fuck is he mad all of a sudden when Vanni’s name is brought up?
How should I know? Just a minute ago, he hated her. Now he is acting like he doesn’t.
I know. Let’s just stay quiet and watch what happens.
“So how long have you been with us?” Kai asked.
The air was thick with anger. It was almost choking me.
She seemed hesitant to answer. It wasn’t her answer that shocked Keoni and me. It was his actions that did.